Why's St. Peter so twisted?

Approaching Infinity

FOTCM Member
Laura said:
But perhaps "awkwardness," or "twistedness" is what Leonardo intended to convey about St. Peter?
One of the hands that must belong to him is found making a “cutting motion” at the throat of the woman seated next to Jesus.
"You must show a man in despair with a knife..." and, if we suppose that the bread, the Eucharist, is to represent "the body of Christ," then the action of the knife over the bread might very well be Envy making a "contemptuous motion of the hand towards heaven." Put that together with the head cutting motion and the whispering in the ear: conspiring, and a rather unpleasant picture of St. Peter emerges. It seems that Peter is hiding his actions behind Judas.
With the hands of the woman in The Last Supper clasped together as though "bound," and the cutting motion being made by St. Peter, concealing his knife, we certainly can see a relationship here.
I found this in Stevan Davies' "Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom":

Davies said:
The [Mary Magdalene] saying appears to be part of an ongoing argument between what came to be orthodox and what came to be gnostic forms of Christianity. Each side was symbolized by named disciples. Peter's right to special power was emphasized by some of the orthodox form's texts [like Matthew], others emphasized the role of a "beloved Disciple" [John] and still others, always the more gnostic variety, emphasized the importance of Mary Magdalene.
In light of the first century Platonic vocabulary, saying 114 affirms Mary's potential, and the potential of all women, to belong within Jesus' immediate group of successful followers. Peter disagrees, as he also does in a later text entitled The Gospel of Mary. In that second century text Mary reveals what Jesus has secretly taught her, only to be rudely dismissed by Peter's brother, Andrew. [Mary relates what Jesus told her, and Peter then accuses her of lying.]
Peter is portrayed in these 'gnostic' gospels (even though Thomas can't really be considered Gnostic, in the 2nd century Valentinian sense of the term) as wanting Mary excluded. Jesus, however, praises her understanding, saying she has the potential to become 'more male,' [i.e. less passive and unquestioning; sexist language, I know] just as the males need to become 'more male' through their own work.

I'm not sure how it all fits together (i.e. if Peter was a cointelpro individual, or a collective group of 'false saviour christianities, or something more esoteric...), or where Judas fits in, but I just though I'd share.

Approaching Infinity

FOTCM Member
Reading Davies' book, I found a some more interesting connections. The gospel of Thomas is called that because it is told by Didymos Judas Thomas. Didymos is Greek for twin and Thomas (Tau'ma) is Aramaic for twin. So somewhere along the scribal tradition, "Judas the twin" because "twin Judas the twin." One of the translators probably didn't understand the Aramaic, and thought it was part of the author's name. So, what we really have is the gospel of Judas. Now, the fact that Leonardo portrayed Peter conniving behind Judas' back makes a little more sense. The "Mary" and "Judas" traditions seem to have been the Gnostic/Wisdom ones that were subject to some harsh COINTELPRO.

Also, Reynaldus said they considered the gospel of John to be closest to the truth. One of Davies' theses is that Thomas is really an early source of the tradition that evolved into the one that produced "John!" They refined the ideas, added the Mark passion narrative, etc. But it has its roots in the early Jesus as Wisdom tradition. Check out the book. Aside from the fact that the latest edition is riddled with typos and other errors, it provides a great analysis of Thomas.

Mr. Premise

The Living Force
hkoehli said:
Check out the book. Aside from the fact that the latest edition is riddled with typos and other errors, it provides a great analysis of Thomas.
Sounds interesting. I think I will check it out. I'm fascinated with the Gospel of Thomas but don't really understand it yet.


Here is an interesting conflict between the "Peterists" and the "Thomists", occuring when the Portugese attempted to take control of Indian ports, written by Herbert Christian Merillat (http://members.aol.com/didymus5/toc.html)

From: http://members.aol.com/didymus5/ch18.html

Thomas versus Peter
The Gnostic Apostle Thomas: Chapter 18

Archbishop Menezes was determined to root out the Nestorian doctrine and local customs of the Thomas Christians, once and for all. Through argument, cajolery, threats, and considerable force of personality, he tried to persuade the Thomas Christians to accept the creed, rites, and authority of Rome. His visitation to Kerala lasted nearly eleven strenuous months. Archdeacon George proved to be a resourceful foe, skilled at exploiting the divisions within the ranks of the foreigners -- rivalries between Jesuit and Dominican orders, between Italian and Spanish friars on one hand and Portuguese on the other, between Lisbon and Rome for control of the local clergy.

Menezes and "Methods of Certainty"
At the end of the century Menezes, threatening to call in the Portuguese army, browbeat the Raja of Cochin into abandoning the Thomasite cause. Archdeacon George finally capitulated, at least in word. He issued a summons for a synod at Diamper, to be held in l599. Clergy and lay representatives from each church gathered to pledge themselves to a new order.

For nine days the synod met, reading and adopting the decrees dictated by Menezes. These are remarkable documents. Probably no other set of papers in history has given so detailed a picture of a system that was being swept away and a system that was being substituted. It was as if a template had been designed to sop up and erase the dogmas, liturgy, writings, ecclesiastical structure, and customs and folkways of the Thomas Christians, and then inked to replace what had been obliterated, item by item, with approved Roman Catholic material.

The kattanars had to become celibate; married kattanars must part from their wives. The clergy had to give up its fees. The authority of the Pope and the Inquisition was accepted. Nestorius and all the saints of his church were anathematized, the Patriarch of Babylon renounced. The Thomasites' liturgy and sacramental practices were revised in detail. Their sacred texts and educational writings in Syriac were to be delivered up for "correction." Once they were handed over, Menezes had them burned.

The third of the synod's nine sessions dealt with the division between Peter and Thomas, leading to a decree:

The Synod is with great sorrow sensible of that heresy, and perverse error, . . that there was one law of St. Thomas and another of St. Peter, which made two different and distinct churches, and both immediately from Christ; and that one had nothing to do with the other, neither did the prelate of the one owe any obedience to the prelate of the other; and that they who had followed the law of St. Peter, had endeavored to destroy the law of St. Thomas, for which they had been punished by him; all which is manifest error, schism, and heresy, there being but one law to all Christians.

The decree went on to affirm one faith, one baptism, one Lord of all, one catholic and apostolic church, and "one universal pastor, to whom all other prelates owe obedience, the Pope and Bishop of Rome."

Shortly after the synod, lingering defiance at the important town of Parayur took the form of a debate staged by actors representing St. Peter and St. Thomas. A third as St. Cyriac, patron of the local church, acted as umpire. According to a report sent to Menezes, Thomas inveighed against Peter: "You have brought into this country an Archbishop . . . who by sheer violence has maintained the cause of the Portuguese, and introduced your law among the people who owe you no allegiance. Your successors, the Bishops of Rome, can have no authority whatever in this country."

"We are both Apostles of Jesus Christ," "Thomas" added. "Our power is, therefore, so equal, that you have no more jurisdiction over my Christians, than I have over yours." "Peter" answered that his law was for all the world. In the end, Cyriac was asked for a decision, which predictably was in favor of Thomas: the true pastor of Christians in India was the Patriarch of Babylon; they should be on guard against the heretic Menezes; the oaths he had extorted at Diamper were null and void.

The debate was repeated elsewhere. Menezes was alarmed, and denounced the actors as mouthpieces of the devil. He sent a priest to exorcise them. Apparently the rebellious were deeply impressed by the rite and, as the Portuguese historian of these times wrote, "the devil ceased to speak through the man's organs."
Thomas had influenced the East and Peter the West. It seems that even within the context of the same religion there is rarely reconciliation between Orient and Occident (especially when the occidentals want the whole pie).


Here is another interesting excerpt from the same author mentioning the possibility that Thomas may in fact be the actual "Twin" of Jesus, as well as the point that his character is only developed in John of the four Gospels.

From: http://members.aol.com/didymus5/ch1.html

Acts of Judas Thomas

The Acts of Judas Thomas emerged, it seems, from the East Syrian civilization of the upper Euphrates Valley early in the third century. It was apparently written originally in Syriac (a variant of Aramaic, which was the language of Jesus and his followers), translated into Greek, then back into Syriac and several other languages. (We are told that M. Bonnet's edition of the Greek version, which is now "taken as standard, depends mainly on an eleventh-century manuscript, the only complete manuscript of the twenty-one known Greek ones.) Like other religious writings, the text varied somewhat from version to version, depending on what points the editors or re-writers wished to make.

Several things are likely to strike the modern reader. One is the negative attitude toward this world and the human body, the "visibles," which must be kept in check if the "invisibles," the spirits or souls, are to be freed. Another is the lack of interest in the Old Testament. Still another is the lack of creeds; Thomas's converts, usually won by performance of an act of exorcism or a miracle, are asked simply to believe in his God, then "sealed" by rites such as baptism. The book was written long before the credal arguments of the fourth and fifth centuries about the nature of Christ and the Trinity.

Rather, the savior's claims to reverence are found in long and often eloquent lists of attributes and titles: For example, in the Acts of Judas Thomas he is called, among other things, guide and leader, city of refuge and repose, planter of the good tree, healer of sick souls, lifegiver of the universe, discloser of hidden secrets, revealer of mysterious sayings. Robert Murray, a principal modern explorer of the origins of the Syriac-speaking church, finds at least 130 titles of Christ.

"Judas Thomas," as we have noted, was the name by which the Doubting Thomas of John's gospel was known in the Syriac culture. But "Thomas" simply means "twin," and would be rendered in Aramaic as Tauma, just as in Greek the word is "Didymus." The familiar English translations of John's gospel might seem to use redundant names for "Thomas Didymus" -- "twin-twin." In the Syriac tradition the apostle is dubbed Judas, and is distinguished from other Judases (such as Judas Iscariot and Judas, son of Jacob) by calling him the twin. And, in the Acts of Judas Thomas, the person of whom he is the twin-- corporeal, or spiritual, or allegorical?-- is Jesus.

Interestingly, John, the most "spiritual" of the gospels and the only one in which the role of Thomas is at all developed, was always a favorite of Gnostic groups. Partly for that reason, it was slow to be accepted into the canon. Scholars widely agree that the writer of that gospel was well acquainted with Gnosticism and had perhaps been a Gnostic himself at some time. Although his is the most spiritual gospel, it repeatedly knocks down the Gnostic notion that Jesus was a man temporarily occupied by the Spirit; Jesus, he affirms, was Christ the Lord.

Mark 6:3 and Matthew l3:55 list a Judas (or Jude) -- a common Jewish name -- as one of the four brothers of Jesus, but nowhere in the canon is it suggested that this Judas was a disciple. Indeed, this Judas, like other members of the family, is described as unimpressed by Jesus. Two of the scriptural lists of the Twelve include a Judas in addition to Iscariot, but Thomas is also found in the same lists. Some scholars have identified him with the author of the Epistle of Judas (or Jude), who calls himself "brother of James" (presumably referring to James the brother of Jesus), but the second-century writer of that letter is widely thought to have claimed kinship with James to give more authority to his message. As one New-Testament scholar has pointed out, "If the quest for the 'historical Jesus' is difficult, the quest for the 'historical relations of Jesus' is nigh impossible."

In the stories of the AJT Jesus and Thomas are often mistaken for each other. This brotherhood, this twinship with Jesus, immediately points to one of the dominant themes in the Thomas writings -- that the earthly self has a spiritual element which belongs in the spiritual realm. From Sayings attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas, historian Elaine Pagels concludes that the writer meant the twinship to serve as a more general symbol, to indicate that those who recognize the divine element within themselves become just like Jesus. (The apocryphal Gospel of Philip, she writes, "makes the same point more succinctly: one is to 'become not a Christian, but a Christ.'" )

The Twelve, says the Acts of Judas Thomas, gathered in Jerusalem to decide how to carry out their master's injunction to "teach all nations." They divided the world (so far as they knew it) by lot, to determine which part each should evangelize. Thomas drew India. He resisted the mission. Indians, he said, were too hard-hearted to receive the message, and besides, he did not speak their language. Jesus appeared in a vision to reassure him: "Fear not, Thomas, because my grace is with you" Thomas still balked: "Send me, Lord, wheresoever you will, but to India I will not go."

At that time a merchant named Habban -- an emissary from Gundaphorus, a great king in India --arrived on the scene. He was looking for someone to build a palace for his ruler. Jesus pointed out Thomas to him, as a skilled carpenter and a slave whom he was willing to sell. The deal was closed, the price paid in silver, and Thomas summoned. Pointing to Jesus, Habban asked the apostle, "Is this your master," and Thomas, of course, acknowledged that Jesus was indeed his master. Thereupon the Indian informed him that he now had a new owner. The two set sail for India.
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